http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/4352/38/ Moderate Sikh leadership in Punjab re-asserts SATINDER BAINS Friday, 01 June 2007 CHANDIGARH: The dera Sacha Sauda controversy understood to have given another chance to moderate Sikh leadership in Punjab to marginalise the radical Sikh organisations who wanted to regain their lost ground after having been rejected by people in the recently concluded state assembly elections. The stern handling of grave religious crisis by the Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) and Shiromani Gurdawara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) has not only blown over the threat to peace but has also isolated hard liners. The SAD ruling partner with BJP in the state has taken full control of the situation after initial disturbances in Bathinda and other parts of the state. The SAD has swiftly took the damage control measures and in tacit understanding with the Sikh clergy defused the situation. The protest march by Sikhs organised on May 31 at Fatehgarh Sahib has made it evident that moderate Sikh leaders are fully in control of the situation and represent the majority section of community. The SAD president Parkash Singh Badal and working president Sukhbir Singh Badal believed to have tacit understanding with the Sikh clergy in sending a strong message of using restraint despite high provocation on the issue of dera Sacha Sauda. The decision of the Akal Takht to reject the apology offered by dera Sacha Sauda was well thought move and has helped the Sikh clergy to implement its writ over radicals. It was rare in Sikh politics that hard liners have withdrawn from the violent protests in such a provocative atmosphere. The political observers said that to prolong the confrontation with dera Sacha Sauda is in the interest of both SAD and hard liners for their own reasons. They would keep alive the agitation against dera in some form to maintain pressure on dera to stay away from politics. The main reason of confrontation between dera and Sikhs was support extended by former to Congress party in the assembly elections. The dera support to Congress party has eroded the SAD base in the Malwa and radical vote bank understood to have rallied behind traditional Akalis in retaliation of dera factor. This was first time that senior radical Sikh leaders like Simranjit Singh Mann had lost their deposits. Now for Akalis of colours, eliminating the dera factor is top priority to rebuild their base in Malwa belt. At religious level SGPC is persuading the dera followers to come back to the fold of Sikh religion and at political level SAD is trying to isolate dera leadership in peaceful and effective manner. In the last one week hundreds of dera followers have abandoned dera Sacha Sauda and got baptised. To keep the agitation going on the Sikh organisations have put forward four points in their memorandum submitted to Governors of Punjab and Haryana. Interestingly the demand to arrest dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh ahs been dropped in new charter of demands. This probably has been done to avoid an embarrassing situation for state government in near future. The four demands now SAD has concentrated are Prohibit (the Dera) from the exploiting sacred symbols of various religions without their express permission. A provision for stringent punishments be made in law so that such -like mischief-mongers do not dare play with religious sentiments of people. The dera chief should not be allowed to evade the course of law, against charges of rape, murder and conspiracy already framed against him. A high-level inquiry be instituted into his blasphemous actions to unravel the larger conspiracy of destabilising the state in particular and the nation in general.